Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lesson #1: The mechanics of ice cream

I received an ice cream maker as a wedding gift from my mother-in-law. This was a great gift because I enjoy making desserts and my husband enjoys eating desserts! My first plan of action was to jump right in and enter a chocolate ice cream at the local county fair. Never mind that I didn't have much experience making ice cream or a whole lot of time to practice making ice cream. I was inspired by a June 2011 recipe of chocolate ice cream in Bon Appetit, so I decided to try this recipe and hope for the best.

At the ice cream judging, there were only 3 chocolate ice creams. I optimistically thought I would at least get a ribbon and didn't have to tell people how many ice creams were entered if I won 3rd place. Plus, we were able to taste the other ice creams afterward and I was excited to taste the competition. When the results were announced, my ice cream won 1st place!

Naturally, after this victory, I was psyched to make other ice creams. The first ice cream I made was delicious strawberry ice cream (where I completely made up the recipe using homemade strawberry jam that never set up quite right). I thought I was on a roll. Next, since peaches were in season, I decided to make peach ice cream. I didn't have any heavy cream on hand, so I decided to use all milk (thinking at least it was whole milk and contained more fat compared to skim milk). BIG MISTAKE! The result was an icy mess of peach chunks. It tasted like the worst low-fat ice cream you can imagine. I did some research and found out that the fat content in the liquid (cream and milk) affect the consistency of ice cream.

Next up was cherry ice cream with chocolate shavings. Since I was hyper aware of the fat content issue, I decided to add a lot of cream (about 2 cups) and just a little whole milk (about 1/2 cup) to see if I could get a super creamy ice cream. BIG MISTAKE! The end result tasted like whipped cream that was frozen. Not as bad as the icy mess, but not as yummy as ice cream.

Clearly, I needed to balance the amount of cream and whole milk. So, here's the ratio that seemed to work the best: 2 cups of cream to 1 1/2 cups whole milk. I made an awesome birthday cake ice cream and brownie bit ice cream.

LESSON LEARNED: don't add too much or too little cream to your ice cream!

Recipe for my creamy ice cream base

Recipe for my award winning chocolate ice cream

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Welcome to my blog!

Thanks for stopping by! I'm starting this blog to chronicle my adventures (and miss adventures) in baking. As I learn, I will share my lessons with you. I thought this would be the perfect medium to do this because (1) I LOVE baking and (2) I LOVE teaching. In high school, I started baking by entering the local county fair and continued through graduate school when I baked for the undergraduate students in my psychology lab. Currently, I'm an adjunct professor in psychology and enjoy teaching general psychology. It made sense, then, to combine two of my favorite past times into one blog.
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